Parents often wonder what do we teach in preschool.  When we explain that toddlers learn the alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes, they would quickly say, “Oh she already knows her alphabet very well.  She watches Barney all the time!”  But you see there is more to that than just simply being able to name the alphabet very well.

Yes, kids are sent to school to learn facts and gain knowledge of the world. Learning how to read, name the shapes and count numbers one to one hundred comprises just a fraction of the whole learning experience. Read on and find out what other basic skills children need to learn so they are equipped to face the challenges of life.

Cognitive Skills

The word “cognition” is defined as “the act of knowing” or knowledge.”  This is not an automatic process, rather all cognitive skills are taught and learned.  Cognitive skills refer to those that make it possible for us to know. When a child thinks, processes and analyzes facts, he is using his cognitive skills. Learning to read stories, add numbers and naming the parts of the plants are examples of acquiring cognitive or academic skills.

Language Skills

Language employs symbols – words, gestures or spoken sounds – to represent objects and ideas.  If you observe an infant you know that communication of language begins with spoken sounds combined with gestures.

Receptive language is what children first develop by listening to and understanding what they hear.  Expressive language follows where the child now learns to communicate using words and later on to sentences.

Psychomotor Skills

The physical development of a child is another important skill that a child needs to develop.  This involves his fine and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the big muscle movements such as walking, dancing and running. Fine motor skills involve movements of the small muscles like writing, drawing or coloring. Play helps a child to develop his psychomotor skills.

Self-Help Skills

When a child learns to keep his toys or wipe his placemat after eating, he is developing his self-help skills.  This is also another important aspect that kids learn in preschool. Children need to learn to take care of themselves as well their things.  Examples of self help skills is putting on his shoes, washing his hands, inserting buttons in his shirt, returning his books or toys and so on.  This helps a child value himself as well as respect the things around him.

Socio-Emotional Skills

It is important that the preschool should be a place where the child develops emotionally and socially.   The first step is trusting his teachers and making friends with his classmates.  Children then learn to adjust to the routine, follow the rules in the classroom and wait for his turn.  Each experience in school is a wonderful opportunity for the child to learn how to respond appropriately as well as voice out his feelings and thoughts.  A supportive environment helps a child handle emotions such as frustration, anger or hurt.

Values Education/Character Formation

Although this is not part of the five basic skills, it is one of the most important aspects that a child must learn in his growing years. Values like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, kindness and love must be modeled and taught. The character of a child will be crucial on how he will live his life in the coming years.

Gaining knowledge is not the only prerequisite to living a full life. Positive self-esteem and the ability to handle emotions like frustration and failure are necessary to maintaining healthy relationships in life.

“Everything you really need to learn, you learn in kindergarten.”,  Robert Fulghum sums it up beautifully.

By:  Michelle Simtoco

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